Russia today formally delivered its ratification of the Kyoto treaty against global warming to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, enabling the pact that seeks to reduce so-called greenhouse gases to go into effect in what the United Nations chief called “a great day for the whole world.”
“This is a historic step forward in the world’s efforts to combat a truly global threat,” Mr. Annan told Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Andrey Denisov, at the ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya, where the Security Council is meeting in a special session aimed at ending Sudan’s various wars.
After President George W. Bush withdrew United States support for the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, Russian ratification became vital for it to enter into force since 55 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change must ratify it, including developed countries whose combined 1990 emissions of carbon dioxide exceed 55 per cent of that group’s total.
Russia, with 17 per cent of the emissions, pushes the amount beyond that threshold and the Protocol will now become legally binding on its 128 parties 90 days from tomorrow, on 16 February.
“All countries must now do their utmost to combat climate change and to keep it from undermining our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” Mr. Annan said in reference to the targets set by the UN Millennium Summit of 2000 seeking to halve extreme poverty and hunger, reduce infant and maternal mortality and achieve other social goals, all by 2015.
“I therefore take this opportunity to urge those developed countries that have not ratified the Protocol to ratify it and limit their emissions,” he added.
Also speaking at the ceremony, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Klaus Toepfer warned that recent environmental reports clearly demonstrate “the disasters in store for people and the planet if we do not build on the solid foundation of Kyoto.
“But I am confident that we can avert the nightmare scenarios of a 7-metre rise in sea levels and other catastrophic effects by mobilizing industry and business, governments, local authorities and ordinary people everywhere,” he said.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, industrialized countries are to reduce their combined emissions of six major greenhouse gases during the five-year period from 2008 to 2012 to below-1990 levels. The European Union and Japan, for example, are to cut these emissions by 8 per cent and 6 per cent respectively. For many countries, achieving the Kyoto targets will be a major change that will require new policies and new approaches.